Tag Archives: Lockheed Martin

B-1 Lancer bomber launches first prototype of new Stealth Long Range Anti-Ship Missile

B-1 jassm

The brand new LRASM (Long Range Anti-Ship Missile) based on the AGM-158 JASSM-ER (Extended Range) missile was successfully tested at the Point Mugu range, in California, recently

The prototype of a stealth anti-ship missile was first tested on Aug. 27, 2013, even if DARPA released the news some days later.

Along with its ability to be launched from aircraft, the missile will be compatible with Mk41 Vertical Launch System used by surface warships and submarines.

The tripartite research is carried out together by DARPA, USAF and US Navy’s Office of Naval Research, with Lockheed Martin being the manufacturer of the weapon.

The rocket was tested using a Dyess Air Force B-one (“Bone”), from 337th Test and Evaluation Squadron.

The new missile uses its inertial navigation and GPS (global positioning systems) to find its target, and an infrared seeker for pinpoint accuracy right before impact. Noteworthy, the weapon is reported to be extremely jamming resistant and able to operate in “contested and degraded environments”.

The missile hit a moving unmanned 80m vessel: unlike other anti-ship missiles, the LRASM is capable of conducting autonomous targeting, relying on on-board targeting systems to autonomously identify the target without the need of having the target’s GPS in advance.

During the first test, half the way to the target, the missile deviated from the planned route and started an autonomous flight towards the intended place of hit, using own systems: three objects were placed in the target are and both were automatically identified.

The missile initially flies at medium altitude before descending to low altitude to avoid anti-missile defenses by means of a sea skimming approach to the target.

Even though the weapon is based on JASSM-ER, it is believed to have the same range as a standard JASSM (about 200 miles). The difference with JASSM (a GPS-guided cruise missiles with 2,250-lbs warhead) is in its avionics: the LRASM features a multi-mode radio frequency sensor, a new weapon datalink and altimeter. What is more, the missile also houses an uprated power system.

Two more tests are planned later this year.

By the way the U.S. and Finland are active users of JASSM missiles, while Poland will probably purchase the weapon for its F-16 Block 52+’s.

Jacek Siminski for TheAviationist

Top image: B-1 drops a JASSM (Lockheed Martin)

 

 

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NVG video: F-35B Accomplishes First Night Vertical Landing Aboard USS WASP

F-35B first night landing

On Aug. 14, the first DT-II (Developmental Test Phase Two – the second of three planned tests aimed at expanding the F-35B’s shipboard operating envelope for the U.S. Marine Corps) night vertical landing was executed by F-35 Marine Corps test pilot, Lt. Col. C.R. “Jimi” Clift. Clift, a Harrier pilot.

The F-35B is the STOVL (Short Take Off Vertical Landing) of the JSF, destined to replace all the USMC assets, including the Harrier jump jet and the F/A-18 Hornet.

Image credit: U.S. Marine Corps

 

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U.S. Navy UCLASS drone requirements leaked

LM UCLASS

A U.S. Navy document has revealed the requirements that would be the guideline for UCLASS (Unmanned Carrier Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike) drone program.

Image Credit: Lockheed Martin

The key performance perimeters (KPPs) selected for the program, leaked to the press, are the operational range and maximum price.

UCLASS drones are to be introduced in the U.S. Navy by 2020. The contest for the drone is to be conducted in 2014. When it comes to KPP the minimum range of the drone is 600 Nautical Miles, and price per orbit has not to exceed $150 million. Keeping in mind that multiple UAS (Unmanned Aerial Systems) are required to keep a single orbit, this means that the flyaways cost includes the amount of drones needed to ensure the capability to patrol 600 miles away from a carrier in a 24 hour period; it does not mean a single drone will cost 150 million USD.

The UCLASS has to have ability to have operational radius of 1200 NM with aerial refueling.

Some more details about the UCLASS payload also have leaked: drones will have to be able to carry 1,360 kg of armament, one third to be air-to-ground weapons. 500 lbs JDAM bombs should constitute the basic munition for the drone.

Drones will be still just a complement for traditional manned aircraft, as the payload of UAS is much smaller than that of conventional fighters.

Obviously, there is still much to do when it comes use drones in combat. Or even in peacetime, as there is a large scope of problems involved in the issue of drones flying in the open airspace with civilian traffic.

Jacek Siminski for TheAviationist

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Italy’s F-35 stealth fighter purchase review signals more cuts ahead.

Even if the Italian Air Force considers it “essential” for the future of the service in the next 20 years, the F-35 program will be reviewed for 6 months, as a consequence of the lower-house motion supported by the Letta cabinet presented on Jun. 26, 2013.

Based on the new motion, Italy’s participation in the program will not be cancelled, but parliament will have to approve any further stage of the 5th generation multi-role fighter jet purchase.

The new motion, passed 381 to 149 votes, calls on the government to push for more European Union defense projects integration to reduce military spending and defeated an opposition motion in favor of quitting the program.

On Feb. 15, 2012 former Italian Minister of Defense announced Italy’s plan to purchase 90 F-35s out of the original 131.

41 aircraft were be scrapped leaving the Italian Air Force and Navy with less than F-35 in the A and B version to replace about 300 current aircraft, including the Air Force’s Tornado and AMX, and the Navy’s AV-8B+ Harrier II on board the Cavour aircraft carrier, both involved in the Air War in Libya.

Italy plans to spend about 12 billion Euro on the aircraft over 45 years, starting in 2015. Considered the mounting pressure around the program, both within the coalition party and the opposition, and the need for the government to address the huge public debt and limit the budget deficit, a further reduction in the amount of planes that will be eventually procured seems to be not only likely but inevitable.

F-35B and C

Image credit: Lockheed Martin

Delays and cost overruns have raised the projected unit price from 75 million to 133 million USD, even if, in February 2012, Italian head of the agency that is responsible for the procurement of new armaments said that the unit price will be around 70 million each (Lockheed Martin estimated 65M USD for the F-35A and about 73M USD for the F-35B), less than the 79 million USD currently paid for the Eurofighter Typhoon and much less of the 121 million USD per aircraft anticipated in 2011.

Unit price depends also on the foreign sales. U.S. have commitments from allies to buy as many as 500 jets. Last year, The Economist warned that the program is in danger of slipping into the “death spiral” where increasing unit costs would lead to cuts in number of ordered plane, leading to further costs that would boost order cuts.

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[Photo] F-35 performs first AIM-120 missile launch

On Jun. 5, an F-35A conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) aircraft completed the first in-flight missile launch of an AIM-120 C5 AAVI (AMRAAM Air Vehicle Instrumented) over the Point Mugu Sea Test Range.

According to the U.S. Air Force’s statement: “It was the first launch where the F-35 and AIM-120 demonstrated a successful launch-to-eject communications sequence and fired the rocket motor after launch — paving the way for targeted launches in support of the Block 2B fleet release capability later this year.”

F-35 first AIM-120

Image credit: Lockheed Martin

The first AIM-120 launch is just the last of a series of events that have marked the development of the F-35 in the last years, which included the beginning of pilot training at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., the delivery of the first operational test aircraft to Edwards, Nellis Air Force Base, the induction of the world’s first JSF operational squadron at Yuma, the first operational aerial refueling, the (unimpressive) high angle of attack testing, a series of engine problems, the beginning of the “maneuverability dispute.”

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